Top 10 Ways To Escape From North Korea

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Top 10 Ways To Escape From North Korea


North Korea is one of the most isolated nations in the world. The country officially restricts communication between its people and outsiders. Foreign media cannot operate without government permission, and visiting tourists cannot interact freely with North Korean citizens.

In mid-2017, the US banned its people from traveling to North Korea after a tragedy involving US tourist Otto Warmbier. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison for a seemingly minor offense, inexplicably fell into a coma there, and died shortly upon his return to the US.

Life in North Korea is terrible and difficult. Its citizens are being subjected to escalating levels of murder, rape, torture, and hunger on a daily basis. The lack of food is so widespread that there is severe stunting in children.

About 25 percent of the population has no access to proper health care and 20 percent lack proper sanitation and clean water facilities. Human right abuses are so common in North Korea that every ordinary citizen there has experienced it at least once in his or her lifetime.

The government is a dictatorship that prevents its people from traveling out of the country. Anyone who defects from North Korea is considered a traitor and will face severe consequences, including imprisonment and forced labor, if ever brought back to the country.

Even so, North Korean citizens have never given up the hope of leaving the country. In fact, several have tried and succeeded. These are the top 10 ways to escape from North Korea.

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10The Demilitarized Zone

On the Korean peninsula, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a region that separates North Korea from South Korea. It runs for about 240 kilometers (150 mi) and is heavily fortified on either side. Both countries keep a large contingent of troops there.

Making an escape through the DMZ is very dangerous for a civilian because there are land mines around the whole region as well as trigger-happy North Korean soldiers who are too willing to riddle a defector’s body with bullets. The irony, however, is that North Korean soldiers who are supposed to guard their section of the border have taken this escape route safely in the past.

South Korea usually grants citizenship to North Korean defectors. This ensures that the defectors do not need to return to North Korea, where they would be executed.

9The Yellow Sea

Photo credit: The Guardian

The Yellow Sea is a maritime boundary between North Korea and South Korea, but it is also an easy, short route between the two nations. Each country claims a portion of the sea as part of its territory.

The only danger with trying to escape via this route is that it is heavily guarded by naval forces from both countries. The North Korean navy will not hesitate to kill or capture any defector.

There is, however, a ray of hope in escaping through the Yellow Sea. In the past, several good swimmers have easily made their way to South Korea from North Korea simply by swimming this relatively short distance. No matter how eager the North Korean navy is, it is difficult to spot a swimmer in the sea.

8The Sea Of Japan

Photo credit: The Guardian

The Sea of Japan, a common maritime boundary between North Korea and Japan, is also bordered by South Korea and Russia. This is a good route for North Korean defectors who are hoping to leave the isolated country.

The main difficulty: A boat is required to successfully cross into Japan or South Korea. Also, the trip to either country via the Sea of Japan is a long one.

However, there is hope for a defector as several people have made it in the past using this route. Rather than deporting North Korean defectors, Japan gives them the opportunity to safely continue their trip to South Korea.

7The North Korea–China Border

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Several North Korean defectors have taken advantage of their country’s shared border with China to escape from their isolated and repressive homeland. To travel from North Korea to China safely, a defector must collaborate with a Chinese person or someone who is well acquainted with the route in order to escape detection by the Chinese border patrol.

The bad news is that China is very hostile toward North Korean migrants. China collaborates with North Korea on this issue and frequently deports defectors to their homeland, where they will face execution or imprisonment in forced labor camps.

6The Olympic Team

Although North Korea is isolated, it has an Olympic team like almost every nation of the world. Being a member of the Olympic team is a win-win situation for North Koreans.

Besides enabling athletes to enjoy the facilities of a democratic country, team membership presents a great opportunity to escape the tyrannical regime back home. The North Korean government rewards those who win medals but punishes athletes and coaches who come back with nothing.

This is enough reason for athletes to defect from the regime. Although it could be relatively difficult for an average North Korean to defect, it is quite easy for an Olympic athlete. Although all North Korean athletes are closely monitored during international competitions, an escape would be quite easy because the countries that host the Olympic Games are usually democratic nations.

5The Soccer Team

Photo credit: Marcello Casal Jr/ABr

North Korea had a soccer team that qualified for the World Cup in 2010. However, the team did not win a single game at the group stage. After conceding 12 goals in three matches, North Korea dropped out of the tournament.

Despite the humiliation suffered by the team during the games, the North Korean government added insult to injury in its usual style by shaming the players at a public event in Pyongyang. Then the coach of the soccer team was forced to quit his job and was reassigned to the construction industry.

There is hardly any good news that comes out of North Korea. The only great thing about being a member of the North Korean soccer team is that there would be several opportunities to escape from the regime during international competitions.

4Foreign Labor Mission

Photo credit: The Guardian

North Korea has a state-controlled foreign labor mission that enables the government to earn money by sending its citizens to work in countries like China and Russia. Then the irresponsible North Korean government uses the funds from its exploitation of citizens to finance a missile program.

It is estimated that North Korea deploys its forced labor mission in about 45 countries, including those in the European Union. This forced labor is at the heart of the 2018 World Cup preparations.

The work conditions are so bad that North Korean laborers often die on-site. However, neither spy police nor the army watches the laborers to prevent them from escaping. This provides an opportunity for North Koreans to defect from the repressive regime.

3North Korean Diplomatic Corps

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Like every other country, North Korea has a diplomatic corps as well asembassies in some foreign nations. Although North Korea tries to imitate successful countries, it is practically impossible for the hermit nation to hide its miserable state.

Embassy staff are so poorly paid that they are forced to buy secondhand office equipment.The apparent lack of cash is believed to result from a North Korean directive that all embassies be self-financed whenever possible. In addition, North Korean officials have been arrested in certain countries for using their diplomatic status to commit crimes.

Although life in the North Korean diplomatic corps is harsh, it presents a great opportunity to escape from the homeland. Over the years, there have been numerous high-profile defections. For example, in 2016, a senior North Korean diplomat, his wife, and his children defected to South Korea from the United Kingdom. Years earlier, in 1997, the North Korean ambassador to Egypt defected to the United States.

2Air Koryo

North Korea has a state-owned airline called Air Koryo. Like almost everything offered by the country, except its missiles and nuclear weapons, Air Koryo is known for poor quality. It is the only one-star airline in the world.

The poor rating comes from negative passenger reviews. Travelers on Air Koryo have complained about distant attendants, propaganda newspapers, and inedible food. Moreover, the airline flies limited routes. For example, Air Koryo is banned from flying over European Union airspace.

The list of negative reports about the airline is almost endless—from the use of old Soviet-era aircraft to the showing of North Korean propaganda movies to the unwilling passengers aboard flights. The airline also lacks the familiar perks of the civilized travel industry, such as frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and car rentals.

The only good thing about Air Koryo is that it presents an opportunity for North Korean citizens to defect. Although the airline only flies to and from countries that actively support the regime, there have been no reports of armed guards monitoring flight attendants or pilots.

1Student Exchange Program

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A student exchange program allows North Korean students to study abroad and vice versa. On a yearly basis, several students leave China to study in North Korea. Although the country is not a popular destination for Chinese students, some adventurous ones opt to try it.

The good thing about the student exchange program is that hardworking North Korean citizens can study abroad. It’s a win-win situation for the following reasons. Students who return to North Korea may use their new knowledge from advanced countries to alleviate the plight of the poor masses at home who cannot travel or leave. On the other hand, the student exchange program provides an opportunity to escape the clutches of the wicked regime.

Jeffrey Morris is a freelance writer with a passion for history, finance, and politics. You can hire him here.


10 Reasons The Biblical Flood May Have Actually Happened

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10 Reasons The Biblical Flood May Have Actually Happened


Perhaps of all the biblical stories and tales from ancient times, the legends of the Flood are the best known. To most people, these legends are exactly that, mere stories told over the ages and certainly nothing more than fiction.

However, for quite a while, some researchers have offered that the Flood was not merely a myth but a very real event. Initially, the fact that the same story was found in the ancient pasts of various cultures all over the world was the only morsel of proof put forward.

But as the world becomes ever smaller due to improved travel, advanced technology, and the Internet, more finds suggest that the Flood may actually have happened!

10The Presence Of Chevrons Well Above Sea Level

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One of the best ways to detect the location of past flooding is the presence of chevrons, which are wedge-shaped structures in the seafloor. Any significant water activity, such as tsunamis, will leave these chevrons behind.

They have, however, been discovered at and above ground level. This suggests that huge, wide-scale flooding occurred at some point in the distant past.

In 2004, these “high-placed” chevrons were discovered in the mountainous regions of Madagascar. Environmental archaeologist Bruce Masse has studied the area in depth. He believes that this includes an area that offers proof of large-scale flooding and its cause—an impact crater under the Indian Ocean that is probably from a large comet crashing to Earth.

This impact, Masse argues, caused gigantic tidal waves and immense flooding. His research also points to this happening about the time that matches other research and ancient writings about the Flood.

9David Allen Deal’s ‘Discovery Of Noah’s Ark!’

On a piece of land opposite Mount Ararat in modern-day Turkey (where ancient texts suggest the Ark came to rest), David Allen Deal believes that he found the remains of what once was Noah’s Ark. The claims made headlines for a time in the late 1990s as various media outlets broadcast the story—all with different angles and seriousness.

The dimensions of the “remains” broadly match those given in ancient texts, and the area itself is known locally as Naxuan (“Noah’s Zion”). The site had first come to light in the late 1940s following the discovery of the strange outline in the land after an earthquake.

In 1960, Life magazine published pictures of the site. But it wasn’t until Deal conducted extensive research over 10 years that he came forward to claim in his book, The Day Behemoth And Leviathan Died, that the site was indeed the landing spot of Noah’s Ark.

8Ancient Writings Telling The Same Story

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

Practically every civilization carries with it a legend of a great flood from “ancient times.” All of them are remarkably similar in detail despite the lack of known contact among these people.

Although we all know the story of Noah and the Ark, we will look a little later at the Epic of Gilgamesh and the ancient writings of Sumer and the flood accounts in those. But there are many other examples.

In Greek myths and legends, Zeus would “send a flood” to destroy the enemies of whom he had grown tired. In this encounter, upon learning of Zeus’s plans, Prometheus instructs his son, Deucalion, to “build a chest.” He did and survived while “all other men perished!”

Roman lore speaks of the god Jupiter, with the help of Neptune, flooding the Earth to rid it of the “evil ways of humanity!” In this story, Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha, escape the waters on a great boat that washes up on the summit of Parnassus, where Jupiter then takes pity on them.

In ancient Egyptian legends, Atum sends the flood against the “rebellious people.” However, he opts to stay on Earth—interestingly, in the form of a serpent.

Does the fact that all these legends are virtually identical, except for the names and minor points, suggest that they are more historical accounts as opposed to mere legend?

7The Relevance Of Gobekli Tepe

Although it is purely a speculative view, the ancient site of Gobekli Tepe is believed by some to have been one of the first regions to be established after the Flood. Advanced buildings and knowledge of irrigation and agriculture is evident here, as are bizarre stones marked with animals.

From an ancient astronaut perspective, if we believe that the builders of the Ark used advanced technology, might this have been the place where “Noah” began or assisted life in spreading far and wide again?

Incidentally, the site is thought to have been constructed—give or take a few hundred years—around 10,000 BC. There is also evidence of altars where animal remains have been found, suggesting that they had beensacrificed. Again, this would tie in with many of the Bible stories and ancient writings that speak of Noah doing such an act upon leaving the Ark.

Although the land is now under Turkish rule, it was once home to the Armenian people. Many of them claim that their cultural history shows direct lineage to Gobekli Tepe and, in turn, to Noah.

6Many Underwater Cities Being Discovered

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Various underwater cities (or their remains) have been discovered all over the world. Many also correspond to the apparently special date of 10,000 BC in terms of their age at the time of submergence.

An example of these underwater ruins is located off the coast of Okinawa. In 1986, the remains of giant steps and pyramids were discovered there. What made the find even more intriguing were the ancient legends of an underwater city, said to lie exactly where it was eventually discovered. The ruins were found to have been the result of a “highly advanced civilization.”

Off the coast of India, a discovery from 2002 stretches for miles underwater, with initial sonar research suggesting that the city was flooded over during the last Ice Age.

Are these underwater cities the result of a change in sea and land levels following the Flood? As an interesting side note, many of these underwater cities are vast beyond belief, suggesting that the builders were extremely advanced.

5Significance Of The Sumerian King List

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The discovery of the ruins of ancient Sumer and its masses of relics brought to light an item known as the Sumerian King List. This is literally a list of the kings who have ruled over Sumer since the beginning of time.

What is interesting about this list is the rulers who lived before the Flood, which is believed to have occurred approximately 12,000 years ago by most researchers. All these kings ruled for hundreds of years, suggesting that they lived much longer than modern humans. Following the Flood, the length of the reigns began to reflect more realistic human life spans, with most kings ruling between 10 and 40 years.

Why were the apparent life spans of kings before the Flood so much longer than those after, which are the same as the modern human life span? And why does the apparent time of the Flood seem to be the catalyst or marker for such a change?

Could it be partial evidence that the Flood happened and it caused a greater change than we initially thought, including altering the life span of human beings?

4More Evidence In The Dead Sea Scrolls

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

With the discovery of the mysterious writings known as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940s, we found writings that had not been seen for thousands of years. We also received more descriptions of both the Flood and the “Ark” used by Noah.

The scrolls speak in depth about the Flood and the vessel constructed to navigate it. They suggest that the Ark was shaped like a pyramid. Recently, new technology has managed to reveal a word that previously had been unreadable: ne’esefet (“gathered”).

In the context of the writings, the word suggests that the “ribs of the Ark” were gathered at the top. In other words, it had a pyramid shape.

3Tentative Link To Aliens

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Beginning in the late 1970s, researcher and author Zecharia Sitchin released the first title in his book series called Earth Chronicles. In these books, he told of an alien race, the Anunnaki, who came to Earth and began a “worker race” of human beings to help mine the Earth for gold. These descriptions are based on Sitchin’s translations of ancient Sumerian texts.

In this story, the Anunnaki were aware of a great flood coming to the Earth. They chose not to intervene and save human beings. Instead, Enlil, an Anunnaki leader, instructed his favorite human to create a ship of sorts. The man was to take with him what he needed to preserve life so that he could repopulate Earth following the flood.

Perhaps it should be noted that many people dismiss Sitchin’s work and theories in their entirety. However, another ancient writing, the Epic of Gilgamesh, speaks of similar accounts. Many ancient astronaut theorists insist that Gilgamesh is filled with extraterrestrial references.

2Mainstream Admissions (At Least To The Possibility)

Although theories of the Flood as a real event were once the ramblings offringe researchers and scientists, more mainstream researchers now seriously ponder this question. This shows a shift in thinking as well as the acceptance of the possibility—perhaps even likelihood—that the Flood was an actual event.

Some conspiracy theorists will tell you that this is a purposeful “drip-feeding” of information (much as alien researchers claim that the authorities are doing in their fields). But if we assume that the Flood did happen, it is more likely that researchers are simply reluctant to “put their necks on the line” for such an outlandish claim without irrefutable proof. Given how long ago this happened, that proof may be difficult to obtain.

1The Ark Was A DNA Bank

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Even if the Flood was proven to be real, surely the stories of the Ark are not true, right? For example, how is it possible for any vessel to literally carry and maintain two of every species? However, like the Flood itself, tales of the Ark (or some other such vessel) are also present in all the flood legends. So might the Ark also have been real?

A proposal by the ancient astronaut community asked this question: What if the Ark—whatever it might have been in nuts-and-bolts terms—had carried only the DNA of every living species in preparation for beginning life again after the waters receded?

This does suggest that advanced technology was available, understood, and used many thousands of years ago. However, maybe we should consider what Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok told the TV program Ancient Aliens:

The ancient flood was of vital importance because the world before the flood was very different from the world afterward. There are continual legends from around the world that the “preflood” times were an advanced, technological civilization where human beings were in touch with beings from the stars. All of this was lost because of the contamination that incurred!

10 Outrageous Scandals That Rocked The Vatican In Recent Years

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10 Outrageous Scandals That Rocked The Vatican In Recent Years


The Catholic Church is no stranger to controversy. Throughout history, the Vatican has caused more than its fair share of scandals and has carried this trend into the modern era. The following offenses all came to light within the last decade or so and show the Church in a very bad light.

10Gay Orgy At Cardinal’s Apartment

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An Italian newspaper called Il Fatto Quotidiano first reported that the Vatican police broke up a gay orgy in June 2017 involving at least one member of the Catholic Church.

The apartment where the orgy was taking place belongs to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and its current occupant is alleged to be Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio. The cardinal has served as the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts since 2007 and is a personal adviser to Pope Francis.

It should be noted that the cardinal was not among the men present at the orgy. Rather, it was one of his aides. The man who remains unidentified is a priest who works as a secretary for Coccopalmerio and was recently recommended by the cardinal for promotion to bishop.

Police entered the apartment after several neighbors repeatedly complained of loud noises and many people coming and going. Inside, they found theorgy mid-swing and evidence of drug use.

9George Pell Accused In Australia

Photo credit: The Guardian

Earlier this year, Australian Cardinal George Pell became the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be charged with multiple offenses of sexual assault.

In 2014, Pope Francis made Pell the first Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, basically putting him in charge of the Vatican’s finances. Pell has subsequently been granted leave from his position in order to defend himself in a Magistrates’ Court in Victoria.

Australian authorities have not made the charges against Pell public yet. They mention multiple charges of historical sexual assault coming from multiple complainants.

In 2013, the Australian government formed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The commission called on the cardinal to come to Australia and testify several times. However, Pell ended up giving video testimonies, citing his inability to travel for health reasons. Eventually, Victoria authorities came to Rome to question the cardinal regarding several allegations.

Further problems for Pell could arise from his past as archbishop of Melbourne. During that time, he set up the “Melbourne Response” in 1996, a program meant to handle complaints of sexual abuse against the clergy. It has been criticized after renewed scrutiny for being like many other initiatives where the Church was more interested in protecting the abuser than helping the victim.

8Catholic Church Sells Pornography

Over 35 years ago, the Vatican bought Weltbild, one of the largest booksellers in Germany. In 2011, the Catholic Church claimed that it was shocked to find out that Weltbild’s massive list of titles included thousands of erotic books.

Representatives from the Church and the bookseller said that these revelations sparked a “critical dialogue” and they will be looking into stopping the distribution of possibly pornographic material. They ascribed the mistake to “a filtering system failure.” Many of the books have titles such as Call Me Slut!, Sluts Boarding School, and Lawyer’s Whore and feature erotic dust jackets.

Other publishers claimed the Church knew about the books for years. Bernhard Muller, the editor of Catholic magazine PUR, alleged that several Catholic groups alerted the Vatican that they were publishing books with content deemed either pornographic or blasphemous.

But as long as the protests were small in scale, the charges were ignored. This would have been going on since 1998 when Weltbild, a smaller company at the time, merged with several other publishing houses which marketed erotic fiction.

7John Geoghan’s Conviction And Murder

Photo credit: CBS News

In 2003, The Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation into child sex abuse in the Boston area by Roman Catholic priests. The Globeuncovered evidence not only of rampant sex crimes but also of cover-ups by the Church going back decades.

Priests who were accused of being child molesters were simply moved from one parish to another. Alternatively, they were placed on “leave” and sent into treatment before being allowed to resume their regular duties.

One of the main targets of the investigation was John Geoghan, a priest accused of abusing up to 130 boys over a 30-year period. In the end, Geoghan was only given a light sentence in 2002 for groping a 10-year-old boy. But Geoghan was murdered in prison a year later by another convict named Joseph Druce.

When asked why he did it, Druce said that Geoghan was arrogant and remorseless regarding his victims, claiming that he was worth “300 of them.” Druce also said that he overheard the former priest talking about moving to South America after serving his sentence to work with children again.

Druce was found guilty, although he was already serving life without parole. Criticism was directed toward prison officials for allowing the murder to happen. Experts questioned why Druce and Geoghan were placed in protective custody together in the first place since the former was in jail for killing an older gay man.

To add fuel to the fire, surveillance system footage was leaked to YouTubein 2007. It showed prison guards trying to enter the room while Druce was strangling Geoghan.

6The Gay Conclave And Benedict’s Resignation

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In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced his intention to resign, becoming the first pope to do so in 600 years. Officially, Benedict cited health reasons as his motive for retirement. He claimed that he didn’t have the strength necessary to endure the physical and mental demands of the papacy.

Of course, this didn’t stop people from speculating that there could have been ulterior motives for his resignation or even external pressure for Benedict to step down. His announcement came while the Vatican was still hurting from the VatiLeaks scandal—hundreds of confidential papers leaked by the pope’s butler.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica followed up on the leak with a report claiming that there are several factions within the Vatican united by common interests, including a “gay conclave.” These officials allegedly supported each other to increase their status and, eventually, to influence Vatican operations. The report also claimed they had been the victims ofblackmail from people outside the church with whom they had ties of a “worldly nature.”

Pope Benedict XVI vehemently denied these allegations as well as insinuations that there was a hidden motive behind his resignation. However, when he published his memoirs titled The Last Conversations in 2016, the pope admitted to the existence of a “gay lobby” looking to influence Vatican decisions. Benedict also claimed that he had successfully disbanded the power group.

5Ratzinger’s Choir

Photo credit: The Guardian

Back in 2010, allegations surfaced of child abuse in the Regensburger Domspatzen, one of the most famous Roman Catholic choir schools in Germany. At this point, this kind of accusation was no longer shocking or infrequent. However, for three decades, the Domspatzen was run by Georg Ratzinger, older brother of Pope Benedict XVI.

The original accusations came from a man who attended the boarding school in the early 1960s, before Ratzinger took charge. However, a later independent inquiry found that the school endorsed a systematic culture of abuse which occurred between 1945 and 2015.

In that time, the report claims that close to 550 pupils were physically or sexually abused at the hands of their teachers. Common punishments included beatings with sticks or violin bows, sometimes in front of the other boys for added humiliation.

Ratzinger admitted to slapping pupils in the face but denied knowing the true extent of the punishments endured by students. The investigation criticized the former conductor for turning a blind eye to the proceedings.

Ratzinger denied having knowledge of any kind of sexual abuse, a claim backed up by the report. In total, 49 individuals were found at fault, 45 of whom were responsible for physical violence while nine were suspected of sexual abuse.

4VatiLeaks 2.0

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Still reeling from the VatiLeaks scandal a few years ago, the Vatican had to contend with another set of confidential revelations last year. This time, they came courtesy of a woman named Francesca Chaouqui, a PR consultant named to a commission organized by the pope to look into financial reform.

In her book, Chaouqui revealed that she had a mole inside the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. The two would communicate through secret messages left inside a torn cushion in the confessional of the San Luigi dei Francesi Church.

She passed on that information to two Italian journalists who wrote exposes regarding mismanagement and extravagant spending by cardinals. They also asserted that Pope Francis is facing strong resistance within the Vatican to his plan for increased transparency and accountability regarding the Church’s finances.

The scandal had an intriguing twist during Chaouqui’s trial when she and one of her coconspirators, Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, turned against each other. Monsignor Balda claimed that Chaouqui seduced him and that they slept together. She not only denied the allegations but also said that Balda was gay and obtained Vatican accreditation for his lover to serve as his “butler.”

3Killing The Flock

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When the Vatican isn’t busy with complex conspiracies and cover-ups, it still has to deal with straightforward scandals such as one of its priests killing his parishioner. Father Gratien Alabi was recently sentenced to 27 years in prison for the murder of Guerrina Piscaglia, a 50-year-old devout attendee of Alabi’s church in the village of Ca Raffaello.

Piscaglia was last seen on May 1, 2014, when she left her house for a walk. Right off the bat, police looked into Alabi, initially suspecting him of aiding and abetting Piscaglia’s kidnapping or murder.

However, further inquiries made it clear to authorities that the Catholic priest was, in fact, responsible for the woman’s death. A large number of phone calls and text messages between the two led police to believe there was a relationship between the priest and his parishioner.A search of his computer revealed Alabi had photos of nuns in sexual poses, although he claimed they were all sent voluntarily.

2Charity Funds Used For Personal Renovations

Earlier this year, the Associated Press (AP) uncovered two private investigations conducted by the Vatican in 2014 and 2015, respectively. They focused on the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome, one of the Holy See’s extraterritorial properties.

The first investigation initially concluded that the hospital’s main priority became profits instead of proper health care. Among the allegations made public by AP were: overcrowding and poor hygiene leading to infectious outbreaks, improper usage and storage of disposable equipment, and bringing patients out of anesthesia too quickly to maximize operating room turnover.

At the beginning of July 2017, hospital officials called the AP report a hoax. A week later, former hospital president Giuseppe Profiti and ex-treasurer Massimo Spina were in Vatican court on embezzlement charges. However, they stood accused of using close to $500,000 in donations to the hospital’s foundation to renovate the private apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bertone served as Cardinal Secretary of State between 2006 and 2013, making him the second-highest-ranking official in the Vatican during that time. His luxurious apartment is located in the San Carlo Palace inside Vatican City.

The cardinal denied any knowledge of or involvement in the matter. Meanwhile, Profiti claimed that the renovation was an investment as the apartment will be used for fundraising events. One Vatican insider claimed the tribunal was the work of Pope Francis looking to weed out corruption in the hospital.

1Vatican Buys Largest Gay Sauna In Europe

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The Catholic Church had an interesting topic to discuss during the Papal Conclave of 2013—their recent real estate deal. The Vatican spent approximately $30 million for a share in apartment blocks at 2 Via Carducci in Rome.

Several members of the Church have apartments there, including the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Ivan Dias, who lives in a lavish 12-room apartment. In fact, his residence is just a floor above the Vatican’s newest acquisition—the largest gay sauna in Europe.

The establishment is called Europa Multiclub and is considered one of the most famous gay hot spots in Italy. Taking advantage of its newfound fame, the sauna advertised “bear nights” using Bruno, a hairy, overweight “pastor of souls” who strips to “expose body and soul” before changing into a priest’s outfit.

The press later observed that the Vatican purchased the new property using tax breaks granted by the Berlusconi government. It is now recognized as an official part of the Holy See.

Top 10 Fraudulent Expeditions And Discoveries

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Top 10 Fraudulent Expeditions And Discoveries


Exploration has always been part of our history, whether across land, sea, or space. Amazing things have been found throughout the ages, but sometimes, those findings weren’t actually real. These “discoveries” may have been based on truth, but they became more exaggerated with each retelling. The pressure to discover the newest thing and gain fame could have caused explorers to tweak their stories a little. Here are ten of their tallest tales:

10The City Of Gold

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

Some of the earliest explorers of the Americas came from Spain. Hernan Cortes, one of the first Spanish explorers, found the Aztec capital, killed the natives, and stole their gold and silver. His discovery led to rumors of a huge, lost city, completely made of gold, somewhere on the continent. After hearing these stories, the Spanish king sent more explorers to the New World to find it.

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca learned about the seven cities of Cibola, which were supposed to contain fabulous riches, from some natives. Spanish governors sent several people to find these cities, but all they found were small villages. Spain lost interest when they couldn’t find gold, but stories like El Dorado and the Lost City of Z have endured for decades. However, archaeologists recently discovered that El Dorado wasn’t a city. Rather, it referred to an ancient ritual in which a new leader covered himself in gold dust and made gold offerings before taking the throne.

9The Giants Of South America

Photo credit: John Byron

Ferdinand Magellan, known as the first man to sail around the world, supposedly met a tribe of giants in present-day Argentina. Some very tall people have lived through history, but Magellan’s crew described the giants to be over 3 meters (10 ft) tall. Other explorers, like Sir Francis Drake and Commodore Byron, also claimed to have interacted with the giant natives.

Because the Bible describes a time when giants lived on the Earth, especially in the story of David and Goliath, many early historians argued that giants were real. People were more religious in those days, so it makes sense that early explorers would look for giants. Commodore Byron’s account in the 18th century is the last report of the giant Patagonians, so the story seems unlikely to be true. It is possible, though, that these explorers met a tribe of very tall people and exaggerated their actual height.

8The Fountain Of Youth

Aging is difficult for all of us, so it’s not surprising that tales of a magical fountain that grants youth have existed for so long. The earliest story of magical water comes from Herodotus, a Greek historian, who believed that the Macrobians had such a fountain. Alexander the Great also believed that he had found a river with healing water.

Possibly the most famous and misleading account of the search for the Fountain of Youth is that of Juan Ponce de Leon. He had heard from the natives that a Caribbean island called Bimini had a magical spring that could restore youth. Ponce de Leon did set sail with a crew to the island of Bimini, but he was probably more interested in finding gold, since none of his journals mentioned the fountain. When he didn’t find gold or magical water, he sailed northward and found Florida. Today, Bimini has a tourist attraction called the Fountain of Youth, but it’s really just a small spring with mineral water.


Christopher Columbus is known for “discovering” the New World, but some of his other finds are questionable. In 1492, he claimed he had seenmermaids in the water. John Smith of the Virginia Company also claimed to have seen mermaids, and both men said that the creatures were not as pretty as the paintings. Even if these men really saw something with a tail splashing around, it was most likely a manatee.

The earliest account of a mer-person is the Babylonian god Oannes, who was believed to be half-man and half-fish. Similar gods in Greek and Roman mythologies, as well as the Greek stories of Sirens, caused people to believe in mermaids. Even the Scottish and Welsh believed stories of women coming from the sea to marry men. Medieval texts listed mermaids alongside real sea creatures. With such strong belief in mer-people in those days, it makes sense that seagoing explorers would look for them.

6The Cat-Dog Of Bolivia

Photo credit: Jeremy Mallinson

When we think of mythical animals, our minds jump to Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but not many of us have heard of the Bolivian “Mitla.” This animal was documented by Percy Fawcett, an adventurer and explorer known best for mapping the Amazon rain forest. Many of the creatures Fawcett described were real, like the anaconda, but the Mitla is still considered a myth.

Several people claim to have seen the Mitla, but there are no photos of the animal. It is described as a dog with cat-like features. Some say the creature is small and could be a relation to short-eared dogs. Others say the animal is large and more catlike. The confusing descriptions of the animal from various people make it clear that it probably doesn’t exist, but it hasn’t been proven fake yet.

5The Fake Bling Of Cartier

Photo credit: Theophile Hamel

Jacques Cartier was a Frenchman who was asked by King Francis I to find a way through Canada to Asia. After Cartier returned from Canada, the king was so happy with the report that in 1540, he sent the explorer with settlers to colonize the New World. This expedition didn’t go nearly as well.

Even with Iroquois guides, Cartier upset the natives. Between the angry tribes and the freezing winter blocking his way west, Cartier had to turn back. He managed to find what he thought were gold and diamonds in Quebec, so he hightailed it back to France, stranding the colonists in Newfoundland. After the king discovered that the “gold” and “diamonds” were worthless and that the colonists had abandoned the colony, Cartier wasn’t asked to go on any more trips.

4The Demon Tree Of Madagascar

Photo credit: Enigmas

Two explorers, Chase Salmon Osborn and Captain V. de la Motte Hurst, mounted expeditions to Madagascar in the early 20th century with the hope of finding a tree that was known to eat people. The men had probably read about it the myraid magazines and newspapers that reprinted the story from the original in the New York World. The natives of Madagascar encouraged the explorers, telling them that the trees really did exist.

Sadly, these men were on a wild goose chase. The story was written by Edmund Spencer, a reporter at the New York World. Spencer cleverly wrote the story to look like an interview with an explorer who had watched the tree eat a young girl, but the explorer and the tree did not exist. The story was written for entertainment, but many people took it seriously, even to the point of traveling to Madagascar to search for the tree.

3Ancient Egyptians . . . In Arizona?

In 1909, the Phoenix Gazette ran stories about G.E. Kinkaid, an explorer who journeyed into the Grand Canyon and found a large underground settlement with Egyptian or Asian artifacts. The story led people to wonder if settlers from the Middle East or Asia could have come to Arizona thousands of years ago. The articles stated that he found mummies, glyphs, statues, and weapons that looked nothing like the other artifacts in the Grand Canyon.

What gives us pause, however, is the fact that the two stories in the Gazettewere the only times the Egyptian settlement was ever mentioned. Nowadays, the area where Kinkaid supposedly found the settlement is owned by the US government, so nobody can search there. However, John Wesley Powell and his team explored the Grand Canyon thoroughly before Kinkaid and did not describe any Asian or Egyptian relics in their findings.For these reasons, it’s difficult to know whether Kinkaid made the discovery of a lifetime or told the world’s biggest lie.

2Crocker Land

The quest to reach the North Pole sparked some interesting discoveries, but none of them could match Robert Peary’s claim to have found an entire continent. In 1906, several months after failing to reach the North Pole, he said he had found a large landmass near Ellesmere Island. Peary called it “Crocker Land” after George Crocker, the man who funded Peary’s travels.

Several people believed his story because Peary was one of the only people who had explored the Arctic. Also, ocean current patterns of the time indicated that a large landmass could be there. However, once people could fly over the area, Crocker Land was found to be a crock. The currents separate at the Beaufort Gyre, a sort of whirlpool in the ocean in the same place as the fake continent. Some people theorize that Peary may have seen a mirage, but the landmass was most likely made up because Peary had failed to get to the North Pole.

1Pyramids In Antarctica

Photo credit: AI Powers

A group of unnamed people recently claimed to have discovered pyramids in Antarctica, complete with three pictures as proof. After these pictures were mostly proven wrong, Vincente Fuentes of Spain brought the story back with new images of the pyramids from Google Earth, showing them from a different angle. Most scientists believe, however, that the pyramids are either plowed banks of snow, ice packs, or plain old mountains.

According to Eric Rignot, an Earth science professor, the pyramids are most likely mountains. Believers argue that a pyramid-shaped mountain is impossible, but Rignot explains that the pyramid shape can be achieved through a process known as freeze-thaw erosion. The pyramids are also part of a mountain range. Besides, freezing temperatures and no farmland make it highly unlikely that any civilization could have survived in Antarctica.

Brittiany West is a writer, adventurer, and self-published author. Check out her writings on


Read about more wildly inaccurate claims made through history on Top 10 Bizarre Hoaxes In History and 10 Great Hoaxes of the Twentieth Century.


Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Armenia

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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Armenia


Armenia is a country that sits next to Turkey, Iran, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, which is of no help to those readers who have struggled through an American education. Go on, find it on a map. You can’t. Armenia is a picturesque land of plunging valleys, ancient churches, weird bread, and wrestling, but there is so much more tragedy and comedy to unearth. Come with us, to Armenia!

10Armenia Has Been at War for Thirty Years

Depending on who you talk to, the duplicitous and totalitarian Azerbaijanis have been preventing the Armenian people in Nagorno-Karabakh province from rejoining their countrymen as part of Armenia. Either that or the sneaky and not to be trusted Armenians are backing violent separatistsagainst the legitimate and noble Azerbaijani government.

Since before the fall of the Iron Curtain, Nagorno-Karabakh has been the scene of sporadic and sudden violence, the causes and solutions to which nobody can apparently agree on. After the province declared itself an independent state in 1988, and following a 1994 conflict you didn’t hear about that cost upwards of 30,000 lives, the ethnic Armenians in the autonomous state of Nagorno-Karabakh have lived with the double threat of an Azerbaijani state keen to retake the territory, and an international community that recognises the Azerbaijani claims. The result is a seemingly endless cycle of sporadic violence and peace talks that collapse at the first round.

Then again, the Armenians were also condemned for ethnically cleansing the Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh during the 1994 conflict, so it is not like there are many heroes to this particular story to feel sorry for.

9Paganism Is on the Rise

While over 90 percent of Armenians are Christians—mostly of the Armenian Apostolic variety, a particularly conservative and orthodox sect similar to the Coptics and Syriacs—there is a resurgence of paganism that is well integrated and respected in the country. The current president of the Republican Party is a so-called “Hetan” and the philosophy is highly entwined with a search for Armenian identity and nationality in the post-Soviet epoch.

Part of the reason for this reawakening of the old gods is the Temple at Garni. A sacred site dating back to three thousand years before Christ, the Roman era temple was left unmolested when Armenia adopted Christianity in the third century A.D. This temple is the figurehead of a pagan culturethat left relics, stonework, and symbology across the nation—meaning that in the years after the Armenian Genocide, there was a framework available for the persecuted peoples to regain some of their identity.

8The Genocide Is Still Denied

It is fairly common knowledge to most people that during the First World War, the Ottoman Empire exterminated 1.5 million ethnic Armenians. As well as brutal massacres at the hands of The Young Turks, many Armenians were simply forced into the Syrian desert to die of thirst and starvation.

Strange then, that only 28 countries acknowledge the genocide happened at all—and Turkey flat out denies it. Turkey is the key player that prevents the worldwide recognition of the genocide, through hysterical denunciations and the tearing up of trade deals, Ankara is sure to suppress any mention of Ottoman complicity in genocide—to the extent of hiring internet trolls to downvote a Christian Bale movie dealing with the topic. Weird.

7The Beginning of the Christian World

The exact details of how Gregory the Illuminator converted the pagan king of Armenia are wrapped in myth, as one might expect for a third-century legend, although Gregory himself almost certainly existed. What we know for sure is that the oldest Christian cathedral on Earth (the Holy Etchmiadzin) is found in Armenia, and this event is one of the earliest models of what would become the method in which other pagan nations would turn to Christ.

In short, the legend that is told again and again with different characters is that a holy man goes to a country and talks to the pagan king. The king is unimpressed and tortures/kills/exiles the holy man, but then changes his mind after a miracle/demonic possession/defeat in battle. That is the story of Gregory the Illuminator and many other sainted men who followed him, and it all began in Armenia.

6Churchill Got Wasted with Stalin on Armenian Brandy

At the Yalta Conference, the greatest Prime Minister of all time took 500 cigars with him. After all, the conference between Stalin, Roosevelt, andChurchill was due to take an entire week. Winston’s proclivity for alcohol being well known, it is rumored that Stalin brought a sizeable supply of Dvin brandy from Armenia, claimed to be finer than French cognac. As the French were not invited to Yalta, being a “winners only” kind of club, we cannot say whether Dvin passed the Pepsi challenge, but we can almost guarantee that Churchill was drunk as a lord.

As one should be, when deciding the fate of a planet with a genocidal despot communist dictator.

In any case, we can’t entirely blame “The Western Betrayal” on Armenian brandy, as the entire affair was really the story of Uncle Joe Stalin running rings around Roosevelt and setting the stage for the Cold War, which conveniently brings us back to Armenia in the communist era.

5Communism Was Actually Not So Bad for Armenia

Apart from the obvious flaws that come along with communism, Armenia was in such a tragic state after World War I that the Sovietization was a blessing. In 1921 over 200,000 people were starving in the country, and most of the population were beaten down rural folks who had survived the genocides. The infrastructure was limited, literacy was rare, and the school system was limited to being whatever the church felt like teaching.

Unlike many other satellite states, the Armenians were permitted to retain their own language, and much of their culture was left essentially intact—although naturally communism dominated public life and attempted to exterminate religion entirely. By 1991 when independence was declared, Armenia was a modernized state with industry, infrastructure, and decent levels of education. Thanks, commies!

In seriousness though, communists are awful, and they did kill a lot of Armenians for thought-crime. Having factories does not make up for that.

4Simple Potato Cellar Turns into Lifelong Quest for Digging

Back in 1985, Tosya Arakelyan asked her husband to dig out a potato cellarunder their house. Being a builder by trade and not knowing that the end of communism and access to MTV was just six years away, Levon Arakelyan set to work using only hand tools, working for 18 hours a day and apparently motivated by visions that compelled him to dig.

By the time Levon died, 23 years later, and having ignored MTV entirely in favor of more digging, the potato cellar had grown into a network of tunnels70 feet below ground and included shrines, stairs, halls, and mosaic portraits. If nothing else, it stands today as a testament to the awesome power of nagging wives to motivate a guy to just live his life underground like some kind of badger, slowly going insane.

3Chess Is Mandatory in Schools

For the last six years, all Armenian kids have been playing Chess as part of the curriculum, and now we wonder why this doesn’t happen everywhere, immediately. Chess as a game builds character, improves cognitive abilities, improvisation, and forward planning. It is also fun, unless you are a nerd who likes football or other so-called “Jock” sports. You don’t kill queens in football, losers.

Anyway, the example has been a success story, so much so that Spain has followed suit and as of 2015, similarly required chess to be part of everyday school life.

2Renewable Energy Is Going to Be Huge

For the modest sum of around US$60 million, you could build a solar power station in Armenia. At the moment the new development is still at the bidding stage with over twenty bids from international companies. Armenia is already quite well versed in the less polluting side of power, having four hydro-electric plants already, and only one nuclear, and two thermal plants.

Why this particular project is important is that this proposed 55MW solar generator will be constructed in tandem with a 155MW geothermal plant at Jermaghbyur. Both projects are supported by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and represent both a significant investment in infrastructure and, with a population of just three million, the possibility that the entire nation will soon be a green energy model for the region.

1Problems Persist

As is common throughout the region, Armenia suffers from several retrograde social issues. Primarily, freedom of the press is barely any better than under the Soviets. The rights of LGBT people are minimal in the face of frequent hate crimes, such as the report that “five men attacked two transgender sex workers in a Yerevan park in August, causing serious injuries, including brain trauma. The victims attempted to seek assistance from security officers, who refused to help them.” There is no law criminalizing domestic violence, and there is minimal protection from the state for victims of child prostitution and pornography.

Conversely, when one actually is arrested by the Armenian authorities, the punishment is likely to be significantly harsher than you are used to in a western country, with violence par for the course. For example, a woman in Yerevan rebuffed a police officer who whistled at her in 2016. “Four officers handcuffed her and took her to the station, where they insulted and ill-treated her for three hours. A forensic exam revealed bruises and psychological distress. Her appeal of the Special Investigation Service’s decision to dismiss her complaint was under court review at time of writing. She was charged with insulting an officer.“

So be on your best behavior women and gays. Don’t make trouble in Armenia.


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Homeland of tea

According to a legend, tea was first discovered by the legendary Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. Today, China is the world’s biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. It is the most highly consumed beverage in the world. China still boasts many teahouses, particularly in cities with a strong teahouse culture such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Chengdu. Different regions are famous for growing different types of tea. Hangzhou is famous for producing a type of green tea called Longjing or the Dragon Well tea. Tea tastes also vary regionally. Drinkers in Beijing tend to prefer jasmine tea while in Shanghai prefer green tea. Processing raw tea leaves for consumption is a time and labor-intensive activity and still done by hand in many areas in China. The Chinese tea industry employs around 80 million people as farmers, pickers and sales people. Tea pickers tend to be seasonal workers who migrate from all parts of the country during harvest time. The pickers work from early morning until evening for an average wage of around 120 RMB (around 16 euros) a day. Tea can be sold from around 80 RMB (around 11 euros) to over 4,000 RMB (around 525 euro) per kilogram. In 2016, China produced 2.43 million tons of tea. Chinese people believe that the practice of brewing and drinking tea can bring the spirit and wisdom of human beings to a higher level.–By EPA
Seasonal workers harvest Longjing (Dragon Well) tea at a tea plantation in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 13. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Chinese tourists walk in a tea plantation in ‘The sea of the tea trees’ tea garden, near the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China, April 29. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Lu Shuihua, a seasonal worker from Shangrao, Jiangxi Province, poses for a portrait at a tea plantation in the Longjing village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 14. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers pour out newly harvested Longjing (Dragon Well) tea leaves after a working day at tea plantations, in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 13. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
A building which looks like a tea pot placed over other houses in the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China, April 28. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Zhu Chaorong, roasts newly harvested Longjing (Dragon Well) tea leaves in an electronic pan at his home, in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 13. Zhu Chaorong and his family have around 300 meters tea plantation and he hires seasonal workers for picking up tea. After the whole process of making Longjing (Dragon Well) tea, Chaorong with his family sell it. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers harvest Longjing (Dragon Well) tea at a tea plantation in the Longjing village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China ,April 14. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Chinese employees work at ‘Spring snow tea company’ near the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China, April 29. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Wang Yuebao shows Longjing (Dragon Well) tea boxes which she sells, in the Longjing village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 14. Wang Yuebao has 17 seasonal workers. After the whole process of making Longjing (Dragon Well) tea, Yuebao sells it. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Zhu Chaorong, roasts newly harvested Longjing (Dragon Well) tea leaves in an electronic pan at his home, in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Tea plantations surround a village near the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China, April 29. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers harvesting Longjing (Dragon Well) tea walk past a tea house as they have a break for lunch in the Longjing village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Wang Yuebao stands with Longjing (Dragon Well) tea leaves next to her small family tea factory in the Longjing village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, April 14. Wang Yuebao has 17 seasonal workers. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Chinese people ride a small tourist train next to a tea plantation in ‘The sea of the tea trees’ tea garden, near the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China, April 29. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
A tea art master waits for visitors during the Tea Expo in the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers walk through a tea plantation in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers wash their clothes after the working day at tea plantations, in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers sitting next to newly harvested Longjing (Dragon Well) tea leaves have dinner after the working day at tea plantations, in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Visitors taste the tea products during Tea Expo in the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Seasonal workers harvest Longjing (Dragon Well) tea at a tea plantation in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Workers have dinner after the working day at tea plantations, in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
A worker harvests Longjing (Dragon Well) tea at a tea plantation in the Longjing village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)
Tea art masters prepare tea for visitors during the Tea Expo in the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province, China. (Roman Pilipey/EPA)

10 Map Mistakes With Momentous Consequences

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10 Map Mistakes With Momentous Consequences


Most of us probably believe maps are highly accurate, but that’s not always true. When they’re erroneous, maps can cause problems for individuals, communities, and even entire nations. Map errors have resulted in lost homes, insurance cancellations, endangerment of protected wildlife, threats to human life, a military invasion, and victory or defeat on American and European battlefields. These ten momentous map mistakes show how vital it is to have maps we can depend on.

10French And Indian War

Photo credit: Hervey Smyth

Before and during the American Revolutionary War, not many maps of the American continent existed. Consequently, many military maps were made in the field, often under fire, and battles might be won or lost based on their accuracy.

According to authors Richard Brown and Paul Cohen, maps sometimes even caused war. Countries involved in land disputes have backed up their claims to the disputed land with maps that didn’t clearly represent the owner of the land in question. One such map, by John Mitchell, was a contributing cause to the French and Indian War, according to Brown, “because it showed claims of the British possessions, which was one of its purposes in the first place.”

Maps made by British officers on-scene corrected misconceptions about topography and the navigability of waterways. In 1759, during the French and Indian War, Captain James Cook needed to move General James Wolfe’s troops 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) down the St. Lawrence River, from Louisburg, Nova Scotia, to Quebec, but the river was considered “unnavigable.” At night, Cook mapped the river, allowing the British ships to traverse an area the French thought to be impassible. As a result, Wolfe captured the city of Quebec.

9Napoleon’s Defeat At Waterloo

Napoleon Bonaparte lost the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, in part because of a map error. According to documentarian Franck Ferrand, Napoleon aimed his artillery in the wrong direction, far short of the British, Dutch, and Prussian lines. Napoleon relied on an inaccurate map when planning his strategy for the battle, which explains why he didn’t know the lay of the land and became disoriented on the battlefield. According to Ferrand, “It is certainly one of the factors that led to his defeat.”

Due to a printing error, the map showed a strategic site, the Mont-Saint-Jean farm, 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) from its true position, which was the range of Napoleon’s misdirected guns. It also showed a nonexistent bend in a road, according to Belgian illustrator and historian Bernard Coppens, who found the bloodstained map at a Brussels military museum.

8Fatal Bombing Mishap

In July 2006, the Israeli military duplicated a map for a bombing run against a target in Southern Lebanon. An error on the copy of the map identified a United Nations post as a Hezbollah position. As a result, four international observers were killed. Israeli officials expressed their “deepest condolences and sincere regret.”

Mark Regev, Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman, acknowledged that “a mishap on the Israeli side” during the copying of the maps resulted in the failure to correctly identify the UN post’s position, leading to the calamity. The observers, who were from China, Austria, Finland, and Canada, were killed by a precision-guided bomb on July 26. The Hezbollah positions were 180 meters (590 ft) from the UN building.

7Nicaraguan Invasion

Photo credit: Reuters

In November 2010, Nicaraguan troops led by former Sandinista guerrilla commander Eden Pastora crossed the San Juan River near the Caribbeancoast. Invading Costa Rica, their neighbor to the south, the soldiers planted their country’s flag in the soil of Costa Rica’s Calero Island, which is located in an area claimed by both nations. Google Maps almost decided the issue by placing Calero Island inside Nicaragua’s border. “See the satellite photo on Google, and there you see the border,” Pastora said. Costa Rica has no army, but it sent security forces to support the 150 agents already in the area.

The dispute was solved judicially, rather than militarily, when the United Nations’ International Court of Justice ruled that the island, which measures 3 square kilometers (1.2 mi2), and its wetlands should be ceded to Costa Rica, since it has sovereignty over the area. The court also took Nicaragua to task “for violating Costa Rica’s right to navigation in the waters” along the countries’ joint border. Although the international court is powerless to enforce its judgments, both countries must agree to its ruling before their case will be heard by the tribunal. Nicaragua’s deputy foreign minister Cesar Vega said Nicaragua would “abide by the verdict.”

6Grounded Minesweeper

Photo credit: Reuters

According to the United States Navy, its minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground on a Philippines reef because of an error on a navigational chart. The ship’s January 16, 2013, collision damaged the Tubbataha Reef, which is located in a protected area and is home to “one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Coral Triangle.” The Philippines government demanded an investigation of the incident to determine whether the US violated Philippines or international laws.

It was ultimately found that the US Navy damaged 2,345 square meters (25,241 ft2) of the coral reef, and the US paid $2 million in compensation and helped the Philippine Coast Guard to upgrade its station at Tubbataha. The Philippines said that the money will help to rehabilitate and protect the reef as well as enhance monitoring of the area to prevent any similar incidents from occurring. The Guardian‘s captain and other officers were faulted for the incident because they failed to adhere to standard navigation procedures when the minesweeper ran aground.

5Stranded Drivers

Photo credit: Apple Maps

Following Apple Maps directions, Australian motorists found themselves stranded in remote Murray-Sunset National Park. The drivers’ destination was Mildura, 72 kilometers (45 mi) away. In December 2012, police issued a warning to travelers not to rely on the application. Using the app, they cautioned, could be “life-threatening.”

The official Australian Gazetteer shared responsibility for the map error, because its list of place names and coordinates, which Apple Maps uses as a reference, has two Milduras. The first is the actual town (purple pin above), and the second is a point located in the middle of the remote national park (red pin). Apple Maps understood the latter to be the former, and the app’s directions were based on this misunderstanding. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook admitted to the mistake and promised to correct it.

4International Territory Claim

Photo credit: Jess Mcintosh/AP

For more than a century, Canada’s official maps have erroneously included part of the North Pole area as its own territory. The claim conflicts with international law, which states that nations with territory near the Arctic Circle can only claim 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles) of ocean off their northern coasts as their own waters. Anything beyond that distance is legally international waters.

Canada’s claim arose from the old-fashioned “sector theory,” in which theArctic Ocean was divided into triangular slices, with the pole as their meeting point in the center. The theory was never accepted as Canada’s official position on the matter. The old maps’ mistake increases the territory of Canada by 200,000 square kilometers (77,000 mi2), almost all of which is ocean. This additional area is roughly the size of the UK or all five Great Lakes.

In December 2013, perhaps inspired by the sector maps’ mistake, Canadian officials decided to submit a claim of sovereignty over the entire North Pole and its wealth of natural resources, including oil. The claim would enlarge Canada’s territory by 1.2 million square kilometers (463,00 mi2), or about the size of Alberta and Saskatchewan combined. A subsequent claim would expand its territory even further. Before the claim can be submitted, however, Canada must map the area. Even if the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf agrees with Canada’s claim, its decision is nonbinding and would merely open negotiations between countries with their own territorial claims in the Arctic. Such disputes could take years to resolve.

3Wildlife Endangerment

Mapping mistakes that have persisted from the late 20th century into the 21st century continue to endanger African wildlife in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Luama Katanga Reserve. As a result of the errors, the reserve’s boundaries were shifted 50 kilometers (31 mi) to the west. Now, plants and animals that should be protected could be at risk, as mining, agricultural, cattle grazing, and forest clearing operations move in. “The moral of this story is that keeping track of parks—and especially getting maps and boundaries correct—matters hugely for biodiversity,” said James Deutsch, WCS Vice President of Conservation Strategy.

A newly documented species of vegetation, Dorstenia luamensis, a hanging, fern-like plant, is among the flora in the 230,000-hectare reserve, which is also home to 1,400 chimpanzees, whose lives would be threatened should the clearing of forests destroy their habitat. Deutsch urged that the maps be corrected and the reserve protected.

2Flood Insurance Refusal

One of the responsibilities of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Flood Map Service Center is to serve as the “official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program.” Its flood maps are important for three reasons: First, they’re intended to save lives by assessing an area’s floodrisk and recommending relocation if need be. Second, they assist communities with managing their flood plans. Third, they’re used by insurance companies to determine homeowners’ flood insurance rates.

The mission and the objectives of FEMA’s flood protection program appear to be in jeopardy in some cases, due to map mistakes. These errors have created a dilemma for the city of Rochester, Massachusetts. Despite the new FEMA flood plain maps’ numerous errors, Rochester must adopt them to be eligible for federal flood insurance assistance. If the city refuses to accept the mistaken maps, many homeowners could end up losing their insurance.

FEMA’s latest maps of the area are based on older, erroneous maps, to which the new maps add mistakes of their own. Conservation agent Laurell Farinon said that some of the maps’ data make no sense. Rochester Planning Board member Ben Bailey agreed that the maps are “fundamentally flawed.” One of their errors affects him personally: “The line that goes through my property goes up a 20-foot hill and back down again. You don’t have to be an engineer to see that this is inaccurate.” As a result of the error, his insurance company refused to offer him homeowner’s insurance. Massachusetts forbids insurance companies to raise their rates, so Bailey couldn’t get insurance by paying more.

The appeals period has ended, so homeowners are left with two options: Do without insurance or pay engineers to reevaluate their property. And it’s not only homeowners who suffer from FEMA’s map errors. The maps are also used by the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, and building inspectors. FEMA assumes their maps are correct, placing the burden of proving them wrong on the landowners.

1Demolition Of House

It wasn’t their fault they tore down the wrong house, a demolition team argued in 2016. The blame lay with Google Maps. The house numbers were identical, but the duplexes were located on different streets. To explain themistake, an employee of the demolition firm e-mailed a homeowner a copy of a Google Maps photo showing an arrow pointing to the demolished house she owned with another person. The map’s arrow pointed at the duplex on 7601 Calypso Drive, Rowlett, Texas—but identified its address as 7601 Cousteau Drive. The firm was supposed to demolish the duplex on Cousteau.

Despite the company’s contention that Google is at fault, Gerry Beyer, a law professor at Texas Tech University, is doubtful. “My gut reaction is that Google would not be liable,” he said, because Google’s terms of service clearly state that users are responsible for the actions they take based on Google Maps.

Gary Pullman, an instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, lives south of Area 51, which, according to his family and friends, explains “a lot.” His 2016 urban fantasy novel, A Whole World Full of Hurt, available on, was published by The Wild Rose Press.